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Sonatrach takes bitumen tanker under time charter deal

  • : Oil products
  • 24/04/04

Algerian state-owned Sonatrach's Hyproc shipping arm has completed a time charter deal to take 7,645dwt bitumen tanker 3B Destiny from BB Energy Group's trading affiliate 3B Trading for one year, with two further one-year extension options.

The initial one-year deal, starting 1 April, means the 3B Destiny replaces the 7,499dwt Poestella that Sonatrach had been using under a similar time charter arrangement with that vessel's owners, Singapore headquartered shipping firm Bilsea International, since the start of 2021 under a similar annually renewable deal. The tanker has been operating alongside the two Sonatrach-owned and Hyproc-operated bitumen tankers, the Ain Zeft and Ras Tomb, both 4,999dwt.

The Poestella was re-delivered back to its owners at the end of March, and is now being used to move a cargo from Tarragona, Spain, to Antwerp, Belgium, under a so far undisclosed spot or time charter arrangement.

Bitumen shipping market participants said the 3B Destiny deal had probably been agreed at daily rates in a $15,000-16,000 range, applying to the initial one-year time charter period, although the pricing details under the deal have not been disclosed by either counterparty.

Sonatrach's bitumen tankers are usually dedicated to shipping cargoes to the firm's array of Algerian import terminals, helping feed a key Mediterranean market that last year imported just under 617,000t, down from 741,000 in 2022, according to Vortexa data.

After a slow start to Algerian construction activity and bitumen demand this year, the rate of road project work and bitumen import requirements surged last month, with local market participants estimating nearly 80,000t of bitumen in March.

After next week's anticipated halt to most construction work in the country because of the Eid Al-Fitr holiday at the end of Ramadan, activity and demand are set to surge again. The government is pushing to complete road and highway projects in the run-up to presidential elections to be held on 7 September.

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